Check out the evidence

The other day I came across an old email chain relating to a comment on resurrection said to have been made by Lord Darling, who had been described as a former Lord Chief Justice of England.

We, as Christians, are asked to take a very great deal on trust: the teachings, for example, and the miracles of Jesus. If we had to take all on trust, I, for one, should be sceptical. The crux of the problem of whether Jesus was or was not what he proclaimed himself to be, must surely depend on the truth or otherwise of the resurrection. On that greatest point we are not merely asked to have faith. In its favour as a living truth there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in the verdict that the resurrection story is true.

Steve, an American teacher friend, wanted to know when Lord Darling had made this statement. I got in touch with David Turner QC, an eminent Christian lawyer, to see if he could help, who replied:

Lord Darling (born 1862) was certainly a judge and indeed deputised for the Lord Chief Justice 1914-1918, though he never himself held that office. There seems to be no record of his ever having made this remark, which has at different stages been attributed to, amongst others, Lord Denning.

Steve in his response wrote: “Did someone fabricate this quote to further the gospel? We as Christians should never resort to trickery or dishonesty ‘for the sake of furthering the gospel’. It is sick (and blatantly contradictory) to think of lying to push forward God’s truth.” What is more, it is so unnecessary. The evidence for the resurrection is found within the pages of the New Testament itself. All that is needed is an open mind in approaching the accounts of the empty tomb and of the evidence of eyewitnesses. As an American scholar, Michael Licona, wrote in his book, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (Apollos 2010), Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is “by far the best historical explanation of the relevant historical bedrock”.

The evidence stacks up, well and truly, but far too many have never seriously considered the evidence. The words of the former Bible translator, J.B. Philips, are sobering:

Over the years, I have had hundreds of conversations with people, many of them of higher intellectual calibre than my own, who quite obviously had no idea of what Christianity is really about. I was in no case trying to catch them out; I was simply and gently trying to find out what they knew about the New Testament. My conclusion was that they knew virtually nothing. This I find pathetic and somewhat horrifying. It means that the most important Event in human history is politely and quietly by-passed. For it is not as though the evidence had been examined and found unconvincing; it had simply never been examined.

In this Easter season let us raise the issue of the resurrection with non-Christian friends and challenge them too to check out the evidence.

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